“It’s a really big honor to be named Athlete of the Month,” Rubino said.
Changing schools is never easy as a senior, but what a year it has been for Rubino in her first year with the Lady Raiders after transferring from Paul VI in Fairfax, Va. She made the move to be closer to home and to join the ROTC program, but it didn’t hurt that Loudoun County also happens to be a volleyball dynasty in the state of Virginia.
Rubino and the Lady Raiders (29-2) are fresh off their Virginia 4A state championship victory over Jamestown, contested on Nov. 19 at VCU in Richmond. This gave the program their fifth consecutive state title and their ninth in 10 years.
“It’s been a really good experience to be a part of such a big dynasty that we’ve had going for nine years now,” Rubino said.
Despite getting off to a slow start and dropping the first set to Jamestown, the Lady Raiders came charging back to when the next three sets (17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-17) to continue to the dynasty. They finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Washington Post All-Met poll.
“After winning semis, we were all happy we made it that far, knowing we were either first or second,” she said. “Then we went down to VCU and it’s just do or die at that point. The first set wasn’t what we expected, we lost the first set, but we all came back with a fighting spirit and won the next three.”
Rubino, a 5’11” outside hitter and co-captain of the team, had a strong championship performance with 15 kills, eight service points, two aces, one assist, two block assists, and 12 digs.
“I started a little shaky, I think it was because it was states and in a new gym,” Rubino said, “but I was consistent for the most part, I just tried to be a good leader to my team and keep everyone’s spirits up after the first set.”
She believes that her three years of experience at a strong athletic program like Paul VI prepared her for this season and helped her become a better leader. Yet, she admits there was pressure to win when playing for Loudoun County.
“There was a lot of pressure, especially coming into this year, but I think we did well as a team and defeated that pressure,” Rubino said.
Thanks to a brilliant season and a great final game at VCU, Rubino was named the VHSL 4A Volleyball Player of the Year and the Conference 21B Volleyball Player of the Year.
“I feel really gracious to be named player of the year,” she said, “just coming here as a senior, and having my team behind me definitely helped with that, without them there’s no way I would have been named anything like that.”
At the helm of the dominant program is Coach Sherrilyn Hanna, who was named the VHSL 4A Volleyball Coach of the Year.
“She [Hanna] was great, she really pushed us hard to win another state championship, and she never gave up on us so we never gave up on her,” Rubino said, “she just knew we had it in us and said we might be one of the best teams to come through here at Loudoun County.”
Other key contributors to the Lady Raiders’ success were Hannah Aycock (co-captain), Rachael Cullen, and Anderson Vaughan, who were all named to the VHSL 4A Volleyball First Team, giving the squad four members of the all-state first team with Rubino.
For Rubino, her favorite memory of the epic season was a game early in the playoffs against Millbrook on Nov. 7, in which the Raiders won the first set but then dropped the next two before rallying to win the last two sets, and even had to come from behind in the fifth and final set.
Even after all the success this year, she admits the transition to Loudoun County was difficult in the early stages of the season.
“At first it was hard because I was a new person as a senior,” Rubino said, “but after a couple weeks it was easy and I got to know everyone, and everyone in this program is very talented and the other seniors were all very welcoming and helped me get accommodated to what Loudoun County volleyball was, and that allowed me to do well.”
Prior to setting foot on the Loudoun County campus this fall, she had already committed to play volleyball for the University of New Mexico in July, and signed her letter of intent to join the Lobos officially on Nov. 9.
“I visited last fall and I really loved it there,” Rubino said, “I love the campus and the coaching staff, it just really drew my attention.”
Her final three choices came down to New Mexico, Georgia State, and High Point, but the opportunity to play in the highly competitive Mountain West conference with the Lobos was very attractive for her.
In order to get additional competition outside of the high school season, Rubino is a member of the Metro Volleyball Club of Washington, D.C. She also tries to gain an edge through her workout regiment, as she meets with a personal trainer and has trained with Performance Edge, where they develop individualized strength programs to deal with the physical challenges associated with volleyball.
“I loved working out there, they really helped me get stronger, which helped me improve in volleyball,” she said.
According to Rubino, she uses her high volleyball IQ to her advantage on the court. She has been playing the game since the third grade and is the daughter of two former collegiate volleyball players, Robert and Monica, who she says has been her biggest mentors.
“I think I know the game better than the majority of the other players, so it just gives me an edge to be a leader and help the team,” she said.
Viva Loudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
Copyright © Viva Loudoun Media Communications LLC.
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Viva Loudoun has teamed up with Performance Edge to recognize an outstanding Loudoun County student-athlete, and their exceptional achievements for a given month by naming a Viva Loudoun Athlete of the Month throughout the 2016-17 academic school year!
We are extremely proud to have Performance Edge on our team. Dave Mikel, CEO of Performance Edge offers exceptional competitive sports training to exceptional athletes who demand it.
The Performance Edge Mission is to prevent injury, optimize strength and power, and instill confidence and self-discipline.